Archive for the 'Book Picked Me' Category

Three Men in a Boat

Thoughts tmiabbyjkj Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, ebook/orig 1889, 256 pages

FITS the Classics Challenge AND the What’s In a Name Challenge – not sure yet where it will fall.

If one were to ask me why I read this book, I could list many  a reason. One, it’s got BOAT in the title. I like boats.

It fits my classic challenge – not sure yet which category but maybe the 19th century one? It is a HUMOR book – I don’t read much in this genre, but what’s not to like when a book can make you laugh? But the main reason is probably because this book is what Connie Willis based her (or references? or __?…  not sure exactly because I have yet to read) book title To Say Nothing of the Dog. I like dogs. I want to read a Willis book. She has been on my “Author I Must Get To” list for years now. Maybe this will be THE YEAR.

I must say, the dog in Three Men in a Boat is terrific. A true dog’s dog.

Oh, and I did laugh! often, actually. tmiab4

I should change this post to be of the interview style. I have lots of questions.

Why did I read this book now? THAT is the hardest question. It just came to be. I actually downloaded the free ebook version many months ago and something conspired in the cosmos that I should read it in March of 2014.

What did I think of the book? I liked it. However, it got old. I needed to be way shorter. I guess I can be that person who appreciates the non-plot meandering wayward adventure mishap and funny situation comedy feel of this; just a few guys taking a boat trip together. It’s fun, it’s funny, but it gets old and I couldn’t wait for it to end. I was about a third of the way through when THAT FEELING came up. tmiab3

What IS “THAT FEELING”? When I start wondering about a book. Am I getting it? Is it going to wrap up soon? Can we get a few more passages devoted to the dog?

What happens when you get THAT FEELING? Well, this is when I start looking for other reviews of the book, either from Fyrefly’s google search of book blogger reviews or on I then check to see how my friends rated it and then I read through some reviews. If it is a print book, this is when I allow myself to read the blurb on the back of the book or inside flap or – kiss of death, usually – I read the… INTRODUCTION.

And then what happens?  I either give up or I keep going. Oftentimes, neither of these choices ends up in a higher rating than a THREE slicer or star.

How will you rate this one?  I give it THREE SLICES of meat pie. The book did have a plethora of pie references. Any book that allows me to use the word ‘plethora’ in a review also earns it high marks. In fact, for that, it might be a 4 slicer! LOTS of pie. Most of them meat pies which is typical of British food fare. Nothing wrong with that.

But wait! What’s it about? I think I said that already, didn’t I?  It’s about three guys and a dog that take a vacation trip on a boat on the Thames River. It’s British. It’s FULL of English history – which I admit was kind of cool. It really could be described as a travel book – if you were able to cruise the Thames in the late 19th century. Many of the adventures could still happen today though, I suppose – who hates to pack for a trip, am I right?

Would you recommend this book? Actually, I can give this question a resounding YES. If you love British humour, read this. If you want to read the Connie Willis book with me as a read-along, yes. If you are trying to read all the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, then this makes the list and I bet there are worse (ie, more difficult) books on that list. If you like British history, and probably? especially? British literature, I bet this should be on a required reading list somewhere. If the author’s name, Jerome K. Jerome, appeals to you, you might want to read this book. His name appeals to me. I knew a girl in High School whose first name was also her last name and I won’t tell you what it was but it was kind of like Mary Mary, but it wasn’t Mary. I wouldn’t want her to google herself and find that I talked about her!


Do you have anything else to add? Yes, I do. I read on and will admit I skimmed to, a passage about a woman who suffered. A comment on a goodreads review, mentioned that Jerome had biting commentary to provide about society and that it was highlighted with this passage. The woman had found herself “in trouble” and then being scorned and finding it tremendously difficult to support herself and her child given the times, that society’s scorn, etc, she drowned herself in the river. It was poignant.

Much of the writing, the descriptions, the British humor (of course) proves Jerome’s skill as a writer. I don’t and won’t deny him that. Though I failed to find the full tasting of this work to be a total pleasure, I am very glad to have read it and do think I will think often upon it. That is high praise of the best reader’s kind. Books can’t all hit the bells on all levels  at all times for all moods but they can be appreciated for it all anyway. I love this kind of books – the ones that make me think and feel. Golly, I might have to bump it up to a four.

“Supper was not a success. Cold veal pie, when you don’t feel hungry, is apt to cloy. I felt I wanted whitebait and a cutlet; Harris babbled of soles and white-sauce, and passed the remains of his pie to Montmorency, who declined it, and apparently insulted by the offer, went and sat over at the other end of the boat by himself.”  p.187

OK, who read all the way to —> here?? <– and might want to join me for a readalong of To Say Nothing of the Dog?  Or Doomsday? I so want to read that one, too!!!  Sigh….

If you have read Willis and you ‘know’ me, do you think I will like her books?


Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Radleys

Thoughts tradbymh The Radleys  by Matt Haig, Free Press 2010, 285 pages, eBook/Kindle

“Irresistible… Full of clever turns… darkly hilarious spins… Even if you’re suffering from vampire fatigue, you’ll find The Radleys is a fun, fresh contribution to the genre.”   — Associated Press

Nancy the BookFool told me about this one. She tells me about a lot of great books but sometimes the stars align and I immediately get a book in my hands and read it before I really even know what its about. I obviously missed something here. Or my memory got wiped clean along the way. I think I downloaded because I recognized the author name from Twitter. I had ZERO idea this was about vampires until I was a page or two into it.

Guess that doesn’t say much about my discernment skills but might say a whole bunch about the persuasion powers of the Fool. (OK, I will tell you what happened. I saw her review, read the title of it and that Matt Haig wrote it and so I immediately went to goodreads or maybe even Amazon and bought it. I never read Nancy’s thoughts until just before writing this post. Though, I must have seen that she didn’t hate it? Hmmm. Anyway…)

A family drama, a romance or two. Bad choices (on the part of the adults) and lots of well-done teenage angst about deciding “who am I?”  I loved the thoughts of the kids but not so much the mother. I didn’t ‘get’ her and her motivations. I did like the dad. Full of humor and fast-paced plotting. I recommend for a fun quick read.

BUT THE KICKER!??!  I swear this is set in the very same spot in England that Georgette Heyer’s Venetia was set!  So that was just… ODD. And somewhat disorienting. And cool – I love the coincidences that pop up between book choices.

Do you like the cover? I do. Which I never really looked at until I finished because it was an eBook. Another quibble I have about eBooks – they hide the copyright page.


Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Therese Raquin

Thoughts trbyez trbyezgr

Thérèse Raquin

    • Written by: Emile Zola (Translated from French)
    • Narrated by: Kate Winslet
    • Length: 8 hrs
    • Format: Unabridged
  • Release Date:03-08-12 (originally pub’d 1867)
  • Publisher: Audible, Inc.
  • Program Type: Audiobook


Often repeated phrase:  Hither and thither.

This extremely dark story is INTENSE.

A young woman, Thérèse, is trapped in a loveless marriage; she hides her seething contempt well. When her husband, Camille, brings home a friend named Laurent, she secretly unleashes her duplicitous passionate side, Laurent is a non-ambitious lollygagger of a sort; he really only wishes to see if he could shag her. Dark deeds, mayhem and madness ensue.

“He enjoyed gentle quietude; waiting for the hour to strike.”

Not for the faint of heart.

I’m really not sure what Zola was trying to say. That crime never goes unpunished? That we really can’t tell what goes on in the hearts of others? That we should be content with our lot in life or else we’ll only get misery? – NO, not that last one… Perhaps, it is to never trust a cat.

Rating THREE STARS. I realize and I get that this is a classic but not my favorite. Well-written, amazingly paced, fascinating exploration of the depths of madness = imagination, etc. But I found it rather tedious once the madness ball started rolling hither and thither. Yes, I was distracted by the number of times I heard the phrase.

“That woman must have intoxicated me with caresses.”

Winslet’s narration is top-notch.

No pie, that I recall. Hard to say since it was audio and I listen in my car. Just not wise of me to take a note.


Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

They Called Her Styrene

Thoughts tchsbyer by Ed Ruscha, Phaidon Press 2000, 608 pages

This book was in our suite at the Cosmopolitan Hotel Las Vegas. The place had another coffee table book called 30,000 Years of Art. I wish I could have had more time there to read that one, too. Nice place; I recommend it.

IMG_2762 So, what Mr. Ruscha does and is known for, is taking a word or phrase and making it art. I photo’d a few that caught my eye.

I don’t think I realized it, but I seem to have chosen words with a science-y theme.IMG_2764

IMG_2765 IDLE  and THE QUESTION – not sure why this amused me. Maybe because I was on vacation.

I was really hoping to run into a page that said PIE. Had to settle for this: IMG_2766

You can imagine this didn’t take me long to read. AND since it was Vegas, I had an incredible view of the Bellagio fountains and the Eiffel Tower, and the book was ART – thus, how cultured am I? — had to give this the coveted FIVE SLICER. Five beautiful slices of Banana Cream Pie. Because… well, because pudding.

The view:IMG_2743 (ignore the rooftops and parking lots! I never seemed to have my camera when the fountains were playing.)

IMG_2763 “Sometimes found words are the most pure because they have nothing to do with you. I take things as I find them.  A lot of these things come from the noise of everyday life.”   – Ed Ruscha

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ED RUSCHA provided by this link to Wikipedia.


Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Thoughts brainbydd Brain: The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World by Dermot Davis, Expression Unleashed Publishing 2013, 217 pages

Winner of the USA Best Book Award 2013 for Humor.

Recommended by the wonderful blogger at BookFoolery.  Thanks Nancy!

“A delightful, humorous satire that pokes fun at the world of publishing via a flawed character who, in becoming a success for all the wrong reasons, emerges a better person. “

Did this book have any reference to pie?  No, sadly, I do not recall any mention of pie.

Did this book have adventure? Oh yes, or no. Certainly some mind-altering experiences (and I don’t mean drugs.)

Did this book feature books?  and libraries? YES. Who doesn’t love a book about books?

Would this book be about literary ambition? Madcap hilarities?  Satire upon satire?  Yes, yes, yes.

Do you want me to tell you what it’s about or are you comfortable with my vague ramblings?  How about a quick and dirty plot-scape?

Daniel desires to be an author. Of course, he wants to be an adored writer who writes great works and is adored for such. Unfortunately, his plan to be an adored author didn’t work out like he had hoped but starvation and desparation spurs on some motivation. He somehow writes a best-selling self-help book (not his intent) but WHO CARES! It’s selling like hotcakes! Who cares if the adoring fans are a little looney-tunes. Not his problem, right?

Let me tell you this:  The guilt that Daniel suffers is absolutely NOTHING compared to the guilt experienced by our lovers in Zola’s Therese Raquin  Just sayin’. That book is cray-cray in an entirely different way. Actually, opposite in many ways.

Read Nancy’s thoughts on Brain (link above, purple font.) And if you like fun books and feel-good story-telling and insights into the industry of publishing for fickle masses, this book is for you.

Rounding up to four slices of pie! fourpie


Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Maman’s Homesick Pie

Thoughts mhpiebydb Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2011, 254 pages

For the EMOTION category of What’s in a Name 6 Challenge.

OK, Friends, I loved this book! In fact, it must be obvious I loved this book because I loaned it to a very good friend and am anxious to get it back. THAT’s a lot of love for a book. I usually give away my books and rarely recall where I’ve sent them off. This one has an ‘are ya done yet, are ya done yet?!’ urgency plea connected to it. I WANT IT BACK. NOW. (but oh yea, I already promised I’d loan it to another very good friend…)

What? You want to know why exactly I loved it so?

Can I tease you for a few minutes?

I won this book an embarrassingly long time ago and it is embarrassing because you all know I love pie and you would think I would have read it immediately. In fact, I suspect that I “won” this book because the pie-gods know that I love pie and somehow pulled the right levers in the universe so that my name was pulled as the winner and thus that is how I got it into my flour-covered cold-buttered little hands, right?

And it took me a few months. *cough, cough*

OK. YEARS… not quite two which in book-blog-world-time of winning a book to reading it could be interpretted to be rather… yea, late.

Almost two years. Sigh…

Anyway, where was I?  I loved the sharing, I loved the drama, I loved the recipes – though I have yet to cook anything. I SO WANT TO and I will.*

I think I related most to the fact that Donia and I are of a similar age. I was right there with her (sort of; not really) in 1978. I could relate to her wanting to fit in, to pay attention to her life and what she wanted of her life rather than ‘current events’.

I had great respect for her mother. I think I understood her father. Life sucks, sometimes. I laughed and I cried. What more do you want from a memoir?

Recipes?!  yep, recipes.

APPLE PIE, Baby. Five slicer.

Recommended for purchase for the recipes. Really, I’m eager to try many of the recipes…





* Or I will make the Hub make something. He’s the real cook in the family.


Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Up the Down Staircase

Thoughts utdscbybk Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman, First Open Road edition 2012 (orig 1964), 368 pages

For the What’s in a Name Challenge 6: Up/Down

The blurb from (if you click on the book cover above, you will be directed to the site):

Never before has a novel so compellingly laid bare the inner workings of a metropolitan high school. Up the Down Staircase is the funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic teacher whose dash with school bureaucracy is a timeless lesson for students, teachers, parents–anyone concerned about public education. Bel Kaufman lets her characters speak for themselves through memos, letters, directives from the principal, comments by students, notes between teachers, and papers from desk drawers and wastebaskets, evoking a vivid picture of teachers fighting the good fight against all that stands in the way of good teaching.

Even though the description explains that we are given this story via memos and letters, etc, I was not prepared for the style of delivery. I loved it. I was surprised and engaged; very effective and powerful.

I was amazed at how the student and teacher attitudes mirror today’s students’ and teachers’. And saddened. And amused – the notes between Bel and her ‘mentor’ teacher could easily be texts or tweets today. The situations and challenges were all real and dramatic or silly and fun. She captures it all. I laughed and I cried.

Highly recommended. And scary for me since I’m about to enter this world. Or am starting to prepare for a career in education, shall we say. I start school this fall to become certified.

I’m glad I read this. Five pie slice read.

Never mind the cream; it will always rise to the top. It’s the skim milk that needs good teachers.

There are a few good, hard-working patient people … who manage to teach against insuperable odds; a few brilliantly endowed teachers who – unknown and unsung – work their magic in the classroom; a few who truly love young people. The rest, it seems to me, have either given up, or are taking it out on the kids. “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Like most sayings, this is only half true. Those who can, teach; those who can’t – the bitter, the misguided, the failures from other fields – find in the school system an excuse or a refuge.”*

“Sauve qui peut**! Think only of yourself. Getting involved does them no good.”

What could I say to show him that to survive, love was as strong as hate, and could be trusted? His world had taught him well, long before me.

Copley Connection***:  “He sstill inssisstss he sseezz the ghosstss.” <–> Stephen King’s IT.

* I honestly can state that I have not met too many of these bitter and misguided types. Sure, I’ve met a few who might not be the best at the teaching arts or may be burnt out – who might blame them?!  But my heart refuses to accuse any teacher of being totally rotten at it. (Also, corrollary: “Those who can’t teach, consult!” or write educational software. Seriously, the computer programs I have seen for managing grades or assigning substitutes are seriously be out-of-touch on that characteristic called ‘User-Friendly”.

** Can anyone translate this for me?

***A Copley Connection is when a book is linked somehow to another book that I’ve read…

Wish I could say something honest (on student evaluations), like:  “Sycophant,stuffed-shirt, stinker. Has finger in every school pie; will go far.”



Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Beautiful Ruins

Thoughts brbyjw Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters, Harper Audio 2012, ~13 hours

If you love audiobooks, I recommend this one. If you want to try an audiobook and want a story that has lots of drama and love and more drama and a bit of humor and a bit of sadness, I really recommend this one.

I loved it.

What’s it ABOUT:  Oh, you KNOW I hate to give these things away!  The fun is the surprise and enchantment. I won’t tell you much more than it’s about a beautiful woman inside and out who begins an adventure and it turns in on her, topsy-turvy. And actually it’s not really just about her, we don’t even start with her but the Italian guy who falls in love at first sight. And then we meet a bunch more other minor but key characters who are tossed up in the wake like flotsam jetsam* and have heartaches of their own.

OK, maybe not KEY characters, maybe not minor – a few are there for plot support and more fun when it all comes together. And just when you think some storylines will wrap up nicely, they do not and yet others do even when you think they won’t. It spans decades and settings and viewpoints and art mediums. A delightful madcap (sometimes), heartbreaking (of course) in a lot of ways, enjoyable trip through celebrity and fame and success and the chase and the avoidance and the…   oh. Just read it.

It was a terrific listen**, too. Edoardo Ballerini is going on my tops-faves list.

In fact, I so enjoyed this that think I want to buy the book so I can experience it again (and know how to spell things and check for pie references. If anyone has this in eBook, could you go do a search*** and tell me if any pie flavors pop up? Thanks, I appreciate it.)

Rating: Five slices of pie. pierating2

I credit Literate Housewife for the recommendation – the push rather. I think I bought this when I noticed it won something and I needed an audiobook handy but it was Jennifer who told me it was a must! on Twitter one day.


HAPPY June Is Audiobook Month!!

* I love the words flotsam jetsam. One of my tops-faves things about The Little Mermaid.

** I am pretty sure it won some prize for audiobooks. It’s not showing on the Audible page.

*** Really, the only thing I like about eBooks is the ability to search for words like ‘pie’.


Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Burgess Boys

Thoughts tbbbyes The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, Random House 2013, 320 pages

Why I read this:  I very much enjoyed Strout’s Pulitzer (2009) winning Olive Kittredge and was eager to try her next book. Laurie of Bay State RA generously offered to send me her ARC. The setting of Maine appealed to me and I knew it would appeal to my Auntie who lives there. I knew I was going to see this favorite Auntie in Florida last week so I made sure I finished it in time to give to her.

This is a family story sparked by how to ‘deal’ with a teenaged son/nephew who has committed a horrific unexplainable incident; loosely based, perhaps inspired by, a true incident in a small town in Maine. I thought this part, the resulting aftermath of publicity and fear and discussion among varied groups to be very balanced and very interesting without giving any answers.

I really enjoyed this book and the character development, especially. At first, I was worried that none of the characters were ‘likable’ but I enjoyed the smooth unrolling of the story and how the family members interacted/explored their own motivations against their shared history.

Please see Laurie’s review “Family Dysfunction, Maine-Style” here. A big thank you to her for sharing.

Rating: 4 slices of pie



Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Life After Life

“Oh Sylvie,” Hugh said sadly. “Where is your heart?”

Thoughts lalbyka Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Reagan Arthur Books 2013, 544 pages eBook

For the Dock C Book Club “Beginning of the Season” Selection

I didn’t know anything about this one when a friend suggested that we read it together. I committed it to our informal book club* of readers on the boat dock and dived right in.

It’s pretty obvious from the first quotes that it will have a Groundhog Day feel to it – but not that kind of funny. This book is not a comedy even though it isn’t all dark and dramatic, either. I thought it a terrific read.

“What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more” … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: “You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” 

- Neitzshe, The Gay Science

The quote above was the in the Introduction to the story. I must have reread this a few times and the beginning of the book a few times more before I allowed myself to settle in and enjoy the ride. Because it did take a bit of concentration – a ‘paying of attention’, especially of the dates for they repeat often. The title 11 February 1910 is used a LOT. But settle in, I did. And I was unable to or grumbly about the times I had to interrupt my reading to do other things. I wanted to read this in one sitting if I could. It helped get me back to a rhythm of reading that I had been missing in the few weeks prior.

“To have so little self-doubt, she thought, what a thing that must be.”

From the Wiki page on Joseph Goebbels; Adolf Hitler with one of Goebbels' daughters.

From the Wiki page on Joseph Goebbels; Adolf Hitler with one of Goebbels’ daughters.

Ursula Todd is a sensible character and I really liked her. I cried with her; I cheered for her. If one can wish for rest for a fictional character, I’d do that, too.

Five slices of pie. Meat pies, pork pies, plum pies and mince.

“They bought meat pies and fried potatoes and apple turnovers and ate them sitting on a rug on the sand with backs against the rocks.”

“Ursula made an abstemious** cottage pie, followed by baked apples and custard.”

I think I will be reading more Kate Atkinson. Any suggestions?

“Ursula was left to stare at the floral wallpaper. She had never noticed before that the flowers were wisteria, the same flower that grew on the arch over the back porch. This must be what in literature was referred to as “deflowering,” she thought. It had always sounded like a rather pretty word.”  


PLEASE CLICK OVER TO the BOOK FOOL’s review cuz it is awesome and will tell you much more about this cool book…

* My Dock C Book Club has never officially met to discuss a book. Yet. We’ve read The Reliable Wife and Gone Girl.

** abstemious – marked by restraint, especially in the consumption of food or alcohol; also : reflecting such restraint.

HI thIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


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